Blacks in the Revolutionary War
African American Studies
September 20, 2012
LaChanda K. Clemons
Blacks in the Revolutionary War2
Looking back at the history of the United States, it is evident that the Revolutionary War impacted the country a great deal. It was the first war fought with slaves thanks to Lord Dunmore’s controversial proclamation. Historian Benjamin Quarles stated “The Negros role in the Revolutionary War can be best understood by realizing his major loyalty was not to a place nor to a people but to a principle.”There were black loyalists, black sailors, black patriots and black regiments who fought and died in the name of Independence. It has been estimated that over 5,000 African Americans served as soldiers for the Continental army and more than 20,000 fought for the British cause. Slavery in Colonial America is noted to have begun in 1619 with the arrival of 20 African slaves on the Dutch ship named Man-of-war. The slaves made up over half the population in the colonies although they were seen more so as property instead of people. In 1776, there were about 500,000 African American men, women and children slaves. Everyone had a reason for taking part in the war. There were factors that motivated the blacks to take part in such a battle as well. The text mentions that when it came to fighting between the Patriots on one side and their Loyalist American allies on the other, African Americans joined the side that offered freedom. Having that choice of gaining freedom in exchange for serving in the military was indeed motivation. Other motives for blacks were the
Blacks in the Revolutionary War3
desire for adventure, belief in the justice and the goals of the revolution and the possibility of receiving a bounty. The Continental navy and The Royal Navy signed blacks into the navy because of the manpower shortages at sea. Some blacks had been...